Whether you are visiting a bereaved family at their home, in public or at the visitation and funeral, there are certain things you should avoid saying. After giving you a few specific topics to avoid, I will give you a little bit of advice on what to say.
Topic to Avoid #1
Unless the family brings up the cause of death, DO NOT ask about it. It’s just not polite and sometimes there is a reason you don’t know the cause of death. The family may not be ready to speak about it.
Topic to Avoid #2
Try not to say anything that will trivialize or diminish the loss. Whether the person you are speaking to has lost a parent, spouse, baby or pet, be sensitive to their loss. Nobody wants to hear things like:
“You are young, you can have more children”
“You are young, you’ll marry again”
“It was just a dog/cat”
“I know just how you feel”
I realize that you may not know what to say when you are visiting with a family. That is OK.
If you don’t know what to say, the best rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Just say something like this, “I’m sorry for your loss.” or “I’m sorry about your dad. I always enjoyed seeing him at the ballgames.”
Keep it simple and brief. You don’t have to say anything profound. Your presence and support is more important than what you say.